Evan Brown: “Behold the power of in rem actions“:
In rem actions over domain names are powerful tools. A trademark owner can undertake these actions when it identifies an infringing domain name but cannot locate the owner of that domain name. In a sense, the domain name itself is the defendant. . . .
An “impostor” registered mediavestw.com, and “tricked” at least one of plaintiff’s business partners into signing up for advertising services. Plaintiff owns a trademark for MEDIAVEST and operates a website at mediavestww.com. Plaintiff filed an in rem action and sought a temporary restraining order (TRO). . . .
The court found that the TRO would serve the public interest because such interest favors elimination of consumer confusion. (Consider whether there really was any consumer harm that took place here if the alleged fraud was on a business-to-business level. Compare the findings in this case with the finding of no consumer nexus in the recent Reit v. Yelp case.)
The court found that plaintiff had made such a strong showing of the likelihood of success that it did not require plaintiff to post a bond. It ordered the domain name transferred into the court’s control immediately. Behold the power of in rem actions.
Oh, when the defendant is this naughty, Evan, a question such as “was it really consumer confusion”? — perhaps we could ask, instead, “Was there really LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION given the sophistication of consumers?”–is, as we say in yeshiva, “not really a question.”
You’ve got a copycat domain name, a competing business and, for heaven’s sake, the Golden Ring itself — actual confusion? Don’t give me questions! And as Evan says, it’s for cases such as this one where the wrongfulness of the act is, not surprisingly, matched by the ethereality of the defendant that Congress gave us the in rem action. Powerful stuff!